Posted on 18th October 2010

By Nicholas Blincoe, Novelist

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Fiction Uncovered by… Nicholas Blincoe, novelist

The Book of Ebenezer Le Page. Even the name is perfect. It’s not fancy; it simply says, this is the story of this man, yet it makes you want to go on. The rest of the novel has this same quality. It is endlessly engaging from its first boast, that Ebenezer is the oldest man on Guernsey (though he admits that a woman named Liza Queripel of Pleinmont will claim that she is older), to the end when, knowing he is near death, Ebenezer leaves his house to a young man who may, perhaps, be related to this same Liza Queripel.

William Golding reviewed the novel when it was published in 1981 and said, “It is not like reading but living.” Ebenezer’s account of the changes brought by the Twentieth Century on pre-modern Guernsey is so compelling that it is a while before the reader understands that this is one of the great stories of unfinished love. On a second reading, almost every other sentence can set one crying, because one now knows the problems that Ebenezer and Liza will set for themselves. Like Ebenezer, it is a stubborn nineteenth century work dragged into the Twentieth Century.

Harold Bloom placed it on his list, The Western Canon, and though it is undoubtedly peculiar, even out of time, no one who knows it would place it far from the top of their own best-of list. It is, finally, a one-off. The author, Gerald Basil Edwards, wrote it in his seventies and died five years before it found a publisher.



William Rycroft

22nd October 2010 at 09:58

A brilliant choice, a book which is a true original and an absolute gem. My own thoughts on it are here:

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